Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have submitted 11 major projects to be included in this year's update to the region’s Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan, known as the CLRP.
The CLRP is a collection of hundreds of regionally significant projects and programs that the local, state, and regional transportation agencies in the Washington area expect to be able to afford to build or implement by 2040. The Transportation Planning Board updates the plan annually to include new projects and programs as priorities change and funding for new initiatives is identified.
The new projects in this year's CLRP update include, among other things, new streetcar lines in the District, service and infrastructure improvements for MARC commuter rail in Maryland, and road widenings and VRE commuter rail improvements in Virginia.
The new projects are all slated to be complete by 2040, though many will be implemented before then. In all, the projects total more than $3 billion -- about $2 billion in commuter rail improvements, $650 million in streetcar expansions, and $350 million in highway improvements.
The TPB released the final list of project submissions on March 13 for a 30-day public comment period before it considers approving the projects for inclusion in the federally required air quality conformity assessment, the next step in the annual CLRP update process.
The purpose of the air quality conformity assessment is to determine whether proposed changes to the plan will shift travel patterns in a way that might push future vehicle-related emissions above targets previously set by the region and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
One of the District's proposed streetcar lines is a 3.4-mile extension of the nearly-complete H Street NE streetcar line west to Georgetown, mainly via K Street NW. Another is a 3-mile line along M Street SW/SE across the 11th Street Bridge connecting to a planned streetcar line in Anacostia. The District is also proposing a short streetcar spur from the H Street NE line to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail station.
Virginia has proposed a number of upgrades to its VRE commuter rail system, including additional railcars, station platform and parking expansions, and equipment storage and maintenance facility upgrades, which VRE says will allow the system to carry 25,000 more riders per day. Maryland has proposed many similar maintenance and capital upgrades to improve service and accommodate more riders on MARC.
Virginia has also proposed to include two road-widening projects in the CLRP update -- a 2.4-mile stretch of Route 1 in the vicinity of Quantico Marine Base in Prince William County, and a 1-mile segment of VA 123 through Tysons Corner -- as well as three alternatives for a new highway to provide access to Dulles Airport from the west.
Also slated for inclusion in this year's CLRP update is construction of a full interchange on the Capital Beltway in Maryland at the Greenbelt Metro station, and a study of converting some lanes on the District's Interstate highways to high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and eventually to express toll lanes, like those on the Beltway in Virginia.
Last year's update to the CLRP, which the TPB approved in July 2013, included a number of new roads or road-widening projects in Virginia and seven lane-reduction or road reconfiguration projects in the District.
The TPB will vote on April 16 to include this year's proposed projects in the air quality conformity assessment that will take place this spring and summer. In September, the results of the conformity assessment will be released for another 30-day public comment period, and the TPB will consider the projects for final approval in October.